Zero Zero – MAYDAY

Anyone who has been paying attention to the local music scene for the last six years or so has almost certainly encountered the brilliant garage rock of the Love Me Nots at one time or another. Recently the band announced it has decided to take a hiatus, the good news is that the founding core members of the band, alluring chanteuse Nicole Laurenne and guitarist extraordinaire Michael Johnny Walker are far from resting on their laurels in any capacity. Instead, they’ve created a side project that is something of a stylistic turn from their mainstay, in the form of an indie electro-rock outfit called Zero Zero. Joined by drummer Nick Ramirez from Dead Eyes of London, Zero Zero has been crafting and recording songs for much of this year. There is something completely gratifying when artists go solo or spin off into another project that sounds completely unexpected and achieve magnificent results.

In this case it is their eight song debut album MAYDAY, released on October 5th alongside their live debut at Rogue Bar, the results are simply stunning and their live show is absolutely amazing. I’ve been writing a lot about Zero Zero lately, but honestly, I can’t help myself. I’m not sure if it is because they combine everything I love about electro-pop, while maintaining a subliminal garage rock vibe or if it’s because these rockers have sparked off into completely different directions. After listening to the full abum for the last few weeks, I am justifiably inebriated with Zero Zero. MAYDAY is brilliant every step of the way and the tastes and teases we’ve had throughout the summer have only hinted at this amazing piece of electro-rock shock therapy, upon it, every player shines and the vision of Zero Zero becomes clear.

I first heard the the album opener “Drug” while I was hanging out with Zero Zero’s publicist Karen Walker, who revealed the whole project to me at the Sail Inn one night. She played it for me over her phone and I was instantly enchanted, stunned really at how great the demo was and immediately enraptured by the sheer sexy exuberance the track was literally dripping with. The song evokes both the best of modern electro-pop with brilliant beats, pure danceability and chart ready hooks, while also invoking a timeless transcendence that exceeds genre with the addition of Walker’s killer guitar that rides between a fuzzbox garage rock familiarity and a surf rock intro that’s damn near deadly. Not only that, but though it is clearly a song very much from the now, but Laurenne’s seductive vocals recall a style of precocious girl pop stylings that are rarely found these days, save for the likes of April March, Ting Tings and a few other anomalies. Mostly the breathy vocalizations recall the best songstress’ from the 1960s, specifically the likes of Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot and any number of those who accompanied Serge Gainsbourg. Maybe it’s all the time the Love Me Nots have spent in France, but there is an authentic European flavor to the whole affair. The lyrics themselves are stunningly sexy, describing drugs as many imagine them and revealing that love and lustful cravings are the drug this song is really about. “Drug” is as addictive as the title suggests.

 “Tear It Up” only backs up what “Drug” promised to deliver and raises the ante. While it hedges more to the edge of where the band members came from, in that it is insanely rooted in brilliant garage dipped rock’n’roll, there is still something about this track that defines it as uniquely Zero Zero. Certainly, the track is not as synth heavy or girl pop oriented as “Drug”,  “Tear It Up” still presents itself as a part of something wholly new for this trio—a sing-a-long, clap until your hands are sore, catchy as hell pop song with a bit of a razors edge to it. We find our heroes at the peak of their powers here. Nicole has never sounded more dangerous, nor sweeter, Walker’s guitar is like a goddamn buzzsaw guiding the entire affair into its voracious maw and Ramirez pounds it out like nobody’s business. Not unlike “Drug”, this is serious music for musicians and music geeks alike—the combination of efforts and effects, like the dreampop girly vocal bridge, the handclap track, the nearly unnoticeable synth affectations—the subtle combination of garage rock, girl pop and the slightest hint of electronic—this thing is so damned hook heavy that it makes a fisherman look unprepared. Let’s face it, these three have something here. The game will not be over until they run you down and yes, it’s a hell of a ride. They premiered “Tear It Up” on my blog, soundsroundtown.net, which within 23 hours of release had so many downloads that it temporarily broke this site–which may sound like bad news to most, but not to me or Zero Zero.

“I know you play me like a video game, I’m keeping score, but you keep scoring,” Laurenne sings in the enticing “I’ll Wait.” A song about being a hostage to the waiting game involved with a relationship that may be something that comes off as slightly psychologically damaging in the end. Waiting by the phone, cancelling plans, feeling like an idiot, but one can’t oneself because the few rewards left are worth this turmoil. The backing track for this sexual addiction drama is as complicated as the topic it addresses—down to video game noises on the appropriate line to clever hooks and a bridge that will absolutely send you spinning with Laurenne’s vocals becoming absolutely histrionic. Killer, through and through.

When I heard “Go” at an album listening party the band held at Film Bar in September, it blew my mind over the theatre speakers. While not a heavy song, it is one of the most beautiful on the album and once more the subject is love with a hint of desperation, but beautiful desperation—seemingly painting the picture of a penthouse pool party while reflecting on a love that has either departed already or is about to, the protagonist will go anywhere with her love. The intro guitar is brilliant in an late night/early morning painting way, the drums fulfill the rhythm of the mood and the vocals are pure sweetness and light. Between the infectious choruses, the verses are very nearly heartwrenching, “Grey seas fade to grey skies, the morning mist won’t lie, last night penthouse parties, empty cities made of lights, it’s only bleak ’cause you are somewhere. you are out there without me” and later, “Backward circles sparkling night,  glow of chlorine glitter burns my eyes, turning vinyl, bitter wine, they’re dancing I’m playing but I am blank inside, it’s only bleak ‘cause you are somewhere, you are out there without me it came to me suddenly you’re the only thing I need.” I’ve been to that party, I’ve lived this song.

Photo by Jason Patrick

“The Pink Ones”  is a sexy rocker, with one of the greatest grooves and a near hip-hop delivery on the verses with a babydoll vocal that finds me almost at a loss for words. On the chorus, when the guitars and drum explode, it’s simply a seismic apocalypse (I listen to this album at maximum volume). The entire affair is an amazing number and might be a great selection for their next single that has endless remix possibilities. “I’m still confusing sex with affection, fun with attention, fakes with friends, still sleeping it off, driving the same new car, still mixing up beginnings with ends.” Brilliant.

What follows is another beautiful, sensual number in the vein of “Go” and it stuns the listener at the versatility Zero Zero finds in their sound.  Between rockers and electro-shockers, songs like “Two Wrongs” just please the ears and soothe the soul, they also perfect the construction of the album as a whole. Walker’s guitar is a brilliant riff that sets up the song perfectly with a laid back latin rhythm, which then lays the ground work for some of Laurenne’s greatest vocals I’ve heard in respect of showing off her amazing range, while Ramirez plays the perfect lazy rhythmic  drumming kept to the background to explore the hypnotic beauty found in this song. Siren songs for the broken hearted go down so well, especially before the final two songs of the album.

“Scissors” is another rocking, electro-shock masterpiece that defines the sound of Zero Zero and another stand out track that shows the more synth heavy side of their songs, without sacrificing any bit of the inherent rockery involved. The attraction of opposites is at the crux of the matter here and every instrument used serves it purpose to demonstrate the beautifully dangerous conflict inherent in the matter at hand. When Walker’s guitar finally comes in, it’s a whirlwind of ferocity almost matching the delicate delivery of the vocals—very nearly a perfection in sound that completely evokes the turmoil and emotions evoked in the lyrical imagery.

Photo by Jason Patrick

If I’m mistaken about the finale of “Red Light” being about prostitution or a late night affair, then I must apologize in advance. That being said it somehow combines the sensual quality of earlier slow burning numbers with the aggressive transcendence of their signature sound. The result is probably the definitive presentation of everything Zero Zero is offering in their appealing sound. From a completely hypnotic delivery both vocally and instrumentally, it is the perfect ending to MAYDAY. “Hand on her hip, she glides, heels don’t make a sound, smirk on her lower lip, dark red smile breaks him like a promise in his mind’s eye see how it plays out how it goes down.” It is one of the most seductive songs on the album and as the finale, it provides what  every album closer should, the need for wanting more.

“Drug” was enough to get me hooked and I can’t complain about this addiction in the least, so while the Love Me Nots are on hiatus, Zero Zero more than fulfills that vacancy and it appear that this trio is having a hell of a lot of fun taking a sharp left turn from their normal direction. This is what I can only describe as “refreshing” for both the members of the band and their listeners. Zero Zero will be on everyone’s mind by the end of the year and will certainly reach the upper echelon of booty moving, club crazed, raving dance madness in no time—if they haven’t already.

You can catch Zero Zero tonight at the Sail Inn as they take the stage at 9PM, joined by Future Loves Past, Doctor Bones, Instructions and Sara Robinson and the  Midnight Special. This will be an amazing show with Zero Zero kicking off the action.

9 PM: Zero Zero
10 PM: Doctor Bones
11 PM: Future Loves Past
12:15 AM: Instructions
1 AM: Sara Robinson and the Midnight Special

 Official Website For Zero Zero
Buy MAYDAY at CDBaby
Buy MAYDAY on iTunes

Watch the video for Zero Zero’s “Drug” right now!

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